Theater and Performance Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Within the Theater and Performance Studies curriculum, we understand performance to be a mode of critical inquiry and research, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for public engagement. The theater events that take place within the department are the means by which students engage with theater performance on the physical, intellectual, and aesthetic levels. It is our hope that you will not only grow as performers but also as artists, thinkers, makers, viewers, researchers, and participants in the whole of the artistic event.

The practical focus of the major is to create theater of all kinds using all its art forms. Whether new to theater or seasoned with years of training and skill, all students receive an education that engages them fully. Your focus may be on acting, dance, technical theater/design, performance studies, or some combination of these. Equally important to us is the study of theater and dance performance theory, history, culture, and literature, thereby balancing the practical with the theoretical. Students engage in other upper division electives in stage management, playwriting, directing, choreography, sound design, scenic design, costume design, or lighting design, as well as a myriad of performance opportunities.

The theater training and academic courses offered by our department are geared toward the student who is interested in learning about theater and performance from multiple perspectives. As either a major or minor in Theater and Performance Studies, you will study with nationally and internationally known faculty, respected for their scholarly research and for their creative work. Our graduates have gone on to professional careers in all theatrical fields and graduate schools all over the world. Our alumni include professional actors on stage and screen, arts journalists, stunt actors, directors, producers, playwrights, and more.

Further departmental opportunities include student-directed theater performances and projects, honors projects, internships in local Bay Area theaters, teaching courses in the department, and invitations to diverse and exciting lectures and performances. Students also have access to world-renowned visiting guest artists through our close relationship with Cal Performances and our extensive network in the field.

Declaring the Major

Most majors declare after taking 2 of their 4 lower division requirements. For more information on this, see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

Honors Program

Majors in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies with an overall GPA of 3.3 in the University may, with the approval of the department, apply to complete an honors project. There are two types of honors projects:

  1. Written-Only Thesis
  2. Written Honors Essay and Production

Students should apply through the Undergraduate Academic Advisor and can find more detailed information on the TDPS website. 

Minor Program

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies offers a minor in Theater and Performance Studies. For further information regarding the minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Transfer students can determine coursework transfers into the minor by bringing unofficial transcripts and course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor. A course equivalent to THEATER 10 can transfer from other institutions into the minor. It is rare that another course from a junior college will transfer into the minor because equivalent coursework is seldom found. Since the minor will be from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, it is likely students will do most of their minor coursework in the Department.

Declaring the Minor

Most minors declare after taking 1 course in the department. For more information on this, see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Summer Certificate

Summer sessions students can earn a certificate for Performance & Culture in the U.S. by completing three required classes over the course of one or two consecutive summers.

Other Programs Offered by TDPS

Dance and Performance Studies (Major and Minor)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. 
  2. No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Declaring the Major

Students may declare the major after passing two of the four lower division required courses. Choose 1 course from the practice courses (THEATER 10 or THEATER 14 or THEATER 60) and 1 course from the performance studies courses (THEATER 25ACTHEATER 26, or THEATER 52AC) so you will have experienced both parts of your Theater and Performance Studies Major before declaring. Students will then be required to complete the 2 remaining lower division courses after declaring.

Lower Division Required Courses

Take the 4 lower division required courses:
THEATER 10Fundamentals of Acting I (This course is required for students intending to take the acting training sequence. Students who have college credit for an equivalent acting course and who audition into a more advanced level can be considered exempt from Theater 10, with approval.)3
or THEATER 14 Performance Workshop
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 25ACThe Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater4
or THEATER 52AC Dance in American Cultures
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3

Upper Division Required Courses

Take all required courses and complete 3 or more electives.
Required Technical Theater
Take the following 2 courses:
THEATER 167Technical Theater: Performance Practice1
THEATER 168Technical Theater: Shop Practice1
Required Production and Design
Select 1 of the following production or design courses:
THEATER 172Stage Management3
THEATER 173Scenography: Scenic Design for Performance3
THEATER 174Scenography: Costume Design for Performance3
THEATER 175AScenography: Lighting Design for Performance (it is recommended to take 175A before proceeding to 175B unless you have consent of the instructor)4
THEATER 175BScenography: Advanced Lighting Design for Performance4
THEATER 177Sound Design for Performance4
Required Theater History
Select 1 of the history courses:
THEATER 151AHistories of Performance: Performance and Community4
or THEATER 151B Histories of Performance: Performance and the Individual
Required Performance Studies
Choose 2 Performance Studies courses from this list. You may repeat the same-numbered course with different content (see the exception below that applies to Theater 113A, Theater 113B, and Theater 114). After you have completed your Theater History required course (see above), you could select the other Theater 151A or Theater 151B course to fulfill 1 of your 2 Performance Studies required courses.
THEATER 117ACCalifornia Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
THEATER 119Performance Theory4
THEATER 121Performance and Culture4
THEATER 125Performance and History4
THEATER 126Performance Literatures4
You may select 1 of the following 3 courses (summer study abroad opportunities or research workshop) to fulfill 1 of your 2 Performance Studies required courses.
THEATER 113AInternational Performance and Literature: Irish Theater: Origins and the Contemporary Scene6
THEATER 113BAfro-Feminist Perspectives on Brazil, Dance, and Arts of the African Diaspora6
THEATER 114Performance Research Workshop4
Electives
After completing the above upper division required courses, most majors need about 6 to 8 more units of upper division electives to complete the total upper division units for the major (24 units minimum). Students are encouraged to create a focus in their additional elective courses (acting, dance, performance studies, technical theater/design) to create depth in their studies. Some students choose to combine a variety of courses to become more of a generalist in their departmental coursework. Elective coursework includes Independent Studies, teaching a DeCal course, Honors Projects, Internships, 196 Projects, and Education Abroad Programs. Note that "taking" DeCal courses does not count toward your major.

Transferring Units

A maximum of eight units of equivalent upper division coursework transfer into the major from the Education Abroad Program (EAP), other departments, or other four-year colleges as electives upon departmental approval. All L&S-approved units from other colleges transfer into the student's BA degree but rarely into the Theater and Performance Studies major. Transfer students should bring a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for evaluation.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be taken for letter-graded credit.
  3. A minimum of 3 of the 5 upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for upper division courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Students who cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

Requirements

Required Lower Division
Select 1 of the following lower division courses:
THEATER 10Fundamentals of Acting I (This course is required for students intending to take the acting training sequence. Students who have college credit for an equivalent acting course and who audition into a more advanced level can be considered exempt from Theater 10, with approval.)3
THEATER 14Performance Workshop3
THEATER 25ACThe Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater4
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 52ACDance in American Cultures4
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3
Required Upper Division Performance Studies Course
Select 1 upper division Performance Studies course:
THEATER 113AInternational Performance and Literature: Irish Theater: Origins and the Contemporary Scene6
THEATER 113BAfro-Feminist Perspectives on Brazil, Dance, and Arts of the African Diaspora6
THEATER 114Performance Research Workshop4
THEATER 117ACCalifornia Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
THEATER 119Performance Theory4
THEATER 121Performance and Culture4
THEATER 125Performance and History4
THEATER 126Performance Literatures4
THEATER 151AHistories of Performance: Performance and Community4
THEATER 151BHistories of Performance: Performance and the Individual4
Elective Upper Division Courses
Choose a minimum of 4 electives to build a focus in your studies. Students may choose 1 or 2 areas of interest in order to pursue depth in the minor.
 

Summer Certificate Requirements

Summer Certificate: Performance & Culture in the U.S.

Students can earn a certificate for Performance & Culture in the U.S. by completing three required classes over the course of one or two consecutive summers. The certificate program is intended to develop or deepen U.S. cultural literacy and intercultural communication skills as students study acting, theater, or public speaking, participate in an internship or theater appreciation class, and learn how performance intersects with media and society.

To declare your intention to complete the certificate, submit the Summer Certificate Participant Form. This form does not commit you to completing the Certificate, but it will allow the Academic Advisor to contact you with updates or reminders related to the program. 

Certificate Requirements

  • Submit the Summer Certificate Participant Form.
  • Complete one class from each category below to earn the certificate.
  • Students may complete required classes over the course of one or two consecutive summers.
  • Courses may not count for both the certificate and a TDPS major/minor.
  • All courses except THEATER 197 must be taken for a letter grade and must be passed with a C or higher.
Performance Theory & Critical Inquiry
Choose one of the following:
California Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism [4]
Performance, Television, and Social Media [4]
Communication & Creative Expression
Choose one of the following:
Public Speaking and Presentation Skills [3]
Fundamentals of Acting I [3]
Performance Workshop [3]
Experiencing Live Performance
Choose one of the following:
Performance Appreciation [3]
Field Studies in Theater [1-4]

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Mission

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression, and public engagement. Through performance training and research, the program creates liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical, and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, the department makes diversity and inclusion a key part of its teaching, art making, and public programming.

Undergraduate majors and minors are well prepared for the future, both as artists and engaged citizens of the world. At a time when scholars and practitioners across a variety of fields call for more cross-disciplinary intellectual collaboration and project-based learning in higher education, the department takes pride in its daily commitment to collaboration and to the kind of rigorously critical, team-based projects it develops with students, staff, and faculty both in the classroom and in the production season.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal written form
  2. Proficiency in research methods (i.e., utilization of public and private archives, libraries, electronic databases, oral histories or textual and performance analysis)
  3. Collaborative skills
  4. Foundational stagecraft and production skills and knowledge (design, craft and technology, stage management, new media)
  5. Literacy in foundational dramatic texts and fundamental concepts of performance theory
  6. Basic history of Euro-American theater practice including issues of race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in the performing arts
  7. Basic acting technique

Skills

Through upper-division coursework, electives, and capstone experiences students should also possess advanced training in at least one of the following:

  1. Directing
  2. Playwriting
  3. Acting
  4. Design
  5. History/Theory/Literature
  6. Stage Management
  7. New Media

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Theater and Performance Studies Major Map PDF.

Courses

Theater and Performance Studies

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Brandi Wilkins Catanese, Associate Professor. Critical race theory, African American theater, non-traditional casting, racial performativity, gender studies, sexuality studies, American popular culture.
Research Profile

Abigail T. De Kosnik, Associate Professor. Technology and Performance, Artistic Appropriation and Remix, Ethnicity, Gender, and Digital Culture, Cultural Studies, Subcultures and Fan Cultures, Marxism and Post-Structuralism .
Research Profile

Julia Fawcett, Associate Professor. Performance history/historiography, British performance 1650-1800, British literature 1650-1800, disability, gender, social geography, set design.
Research Profile

Peter Glazer, Associate Professor. Directing, Adaptation, Performance Theory, 20th century American Theater, Commemorative Performance .
Research Profile

Joe Goode, Professor. Interdisciplinary Dance Theater, Site-Specific Performance, Playwriting/Devised Theater.
Research Profile

Philip Kan Gotanda, Professor. Theater, Playwriting, Asian American, Japanese American, cross-cultural, Indie Film.
Research Profile

Mark Griffith, Professor. Gender and sexuality, Greek literature and performance, Greek and Roman education, Greek tragedy and comedy, Hesiod and wisdom literature, ancient music.
Research Profile

Shannon Jackson, Professor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts + Design. Performance Studies, Contemporary theater, American cultural history and Performance Historiography, Adaptation .
Research Profile

SanSan Kwan, Associate Professor. Critical Dance Studies, Transnational Asian American Studies, Cultural Geography, Theories of Space and Kinesthesia, Interculturalism, Modern Dance, Ballet, and Yoga .
Research Profile

Angela Marino, Associate Professor. Politics and performance in the Americas, Latin/o American performance and dramatic literature, popular fiesta and carnival theory .
Research Profile

Shannon Steen, Associate Professor. Critical race theory, performance theory, American studies, U.S. histories of popular performance, U.S. urban development, globalization studies.
Research Profile

Lisa Wymore, Professor. Modern dance technique, choreography.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Jack Carpenter, Continuing Lecturer. Lighting Design.

Katie Faulkner, Continuing Lecturer. Dance, choreography.

Christopher Herold, Continuing Lecturer. Acting, directing.

Jessica Hirigoyen, Continuing Lecturer. Voice and dialect.

Laxmi Kumaran, Continuing Lecturer. Stage management.

Carol Ann 'Annie' Smart, Continuing Lecturer. Set, costume design.

Maura Tang, Continuing Lecturer. Acting.

Emeritus Faculty

Martin Berman, Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

Lura Dolas, Senior Lecturer Emerita. Acting.

Robert Goldsby, Professor Emeritus.

Jenefer Johnson, Continuing Lecturer. Dance history.

Carol Murota, Senior Lecturer Emerita.

Dunbar Ogden, Professor Emeritus.

Debora Sussel, Senior Lecturer Emerita.

John Warren Travis, Professor Emeritus.

Margaret Wilkerson, Professor Emerita.

Marni Wood, Professor Emerita.

Contact Information

Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

15 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-9012

Fax: 510-643-9956

tdps@berkeley.edu

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Prof. Joe Goode

15E Dwinelle Hall

joegoode@berkeley.edu

Department Vice-Chair

Prof. Philip Kan-Gotanda

15P Dwinelle Hall

joeozu@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Student Academic Advisor

Michael Mansfield, MFA, DMin

15B Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-643-4050

tdpsugadvisor@berkeley.edu

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